JD WALTERS SAID:
“Preventing harm to others is not accomplished by telling lies about other people. Though I really shouldn't have to spell this out to you (even if I am increasingly unsurprised that I have to), I have ZERO sympathy for the devil. At baptism I renounced Satan and all his works. Any suggestion that I and the devil agree on anything is a vicious calumny.”
My priorities are different than yours. It’s your vicious calumny against God that concerns me.
You impugn God’s character when you say no one deserves eternal punishment. You indict God as an unjust judge by punishing sinners more harshly than they deserve.
That’s a diabolical thing for you to say about God.
“The fundamentals of the faith are HERE. You don't get to accuse me of being a heretic unless I contradict one of those statements.”
The Nicene creed is not the standard of comparison. God did not reveal the Nicene creed. That’s a primitive, uninspired statement of faith. It omits much that Scripture teaches.
On judgment day you can’t wave the Nicene creed in God’s face as a permission-slip to excuse you from believing revealed truths. The omissions and deficiencies of the Nicene creed don’t authorize you to deny and defy the word of God.
“Penal substitution is a theological innovation. The Church never affirmed any particular understanding of the atonement as fundamental.”
“The Church” doesn’t get to decide what we are free to disbelieve. God obligates us to believe whatever he reveals.
You act like you can game the system by citing loopholes in fallible creeds. That’s not a get-out-of-jail-free-card.
“If I'm on the road to hell for rejecting it, at least I'm in good company (Justin Martyr, Athanasius, Gregory of Nyssa, Gregory of Nazianzen, Augustine, etc.)”
i) I didn’t say anything about your eternal destiny one way or the other.
ii) Mere men are not the rule of faith. Divine revelation is the rule of faith.
You are answerable to God, JD. Not to church fathers or church councils. You need to stop playacting.
iii) I’d add that there’s such a thing as the progress of dogma. We’re in a position to have a better grasp of Biblical theology than the church fathers. And to whom much is given, much is required.
And as for retributive justice:
"He does not deal with us as our sins deserve, he does not repay us as our misdeeds deserve." (Psalm 103:10)
"What has happened to us is a result of our evil deeds and our great guilt, and yet, our God, you have punished us less than our sins have deserved and have given us a remnant like this." (Ezra 9:13)
At the risk of stating the obvious, Israel had a sacrificial system, involving vicarious punishment. The sacrificial animal suffered the penalty due the human sinner. And that, in turn, was a stand-in for Christian redemption.
“And don't give me this 'The Cross is retroactive' stuff.”
You mean like that “retroactive stuff” in Heb 9:15? (“Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant.”) Indeed, the whole book of Hebrews enunciates the "retroactive stuff."
“If God was holding back to unload our punishment on Jesus, he would never have punished any sin up until that point, at least not of the elect.”
A fallacious all-or-nothing argument.
“The plain and simple lesson of these passages (others could be cited) is that God does not exact full retributive justice.”
He exacts full retributive justice on the damned, and full retributive justice on the Redeemer instead of the elect.
“He chooses which sins he will fully punish, which sins he will attach a reduced sentence to and which sins he will wink at (Acts 17:30) or blot out altogether.”
You’re confusing historical judgments with eschatological judgment. God doesn’t exact retribution all at once. There are stages to redemption and judgment.
“Nobody deserves eternal life, but nobody deserves eternal destruction either.”
That charges God with injustice.
“If you judge people by their works, they would end up somewhere along a continuum, with a garden variety sinner who raised a family in the suburbs and loved them and obeyed the law being closer to happiness than Hitler, for example.”
That’s if JD were to judge people by their works. That happens to reflect JD’s lack of moral perception. But appearances can be deceiving.
“Jesus' warnings about the final judgment and the dichotomy between the two states simply do not allow for gradations of punishment or felicity that a consistent just deserts approach would require.”
i) That’s an illogical assertion. There can be gradations of punishment even though all of the damned are damned.
ii) Christians don’t receive their just desserts. They deserve retribution, but the Redeemer takes their place.
“Um, I beg to differ, and so would the apostle John. Jesus came to the world to save it, and atoned for the sins of the whole world, so now the only condemnation is to reject Jesus and cling to one's sin.”
That’s hardly an accurate summation of Johannine theology. The “world” Jesus came to is a fallen moral order. A “world” characterized by spiritual darkness and blindness, as well as implacable antipathy to God. A world under Satan’s sway.
The Incarnation doesn’t create that situation. Rather, the Incarnation exposes that situation. Only the Holy Spirit can heal the blind (Jn 1:13; 3:3-8).
The only way to escape damnation is to leave the darkness and come into the light. If you stay where you are, where you are lies in darkness, as a child of darkness.
“God would not command all people to repent…”
“All people” don’t even have an opportunity to hear the gospel.
“By the way, Paul is not taking about the final judgment in Romans 6:23, or in Romans 1:18 for that matter.”
Irrelevant. The question at issue was whether there’s an asymmetry between punishment and reward vis-à-vis just desserts. Do Christians get what they deserve? No. Which doesn’t mean the damned won’t be getting what they deserve.
“By my 'made-up standards', my eight year old brother, who is a little hard to deal with sometimes but overall has nothing but love and affection for those he interacts with, works hard at school and is generous with his time to help out around the house, would not deserve to burn in hell forever if he died tomorrow without having heard of Jesus. He does not deserve eternal life with God, I agree, but neither does he deserve punishment in hell forever. I'd like to hear your argument otherwise.”
I don’t have to defend the justice of God. That’s a given.